Born in Scotland, James qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather. He featured for Ireland at various underage levels and made his Under-21 debut against Portugal in September, 2008. Twice named the SPL's Young Player of the Month in the 2008/'09 season, James transferred from Hamilton Academicals to Wigan Athletic in July 2009. He joined Everton in the summer of 2013.
He made his senior debut for Ireland against Brazil on March 3rd 2010. He was introduced as a late substitute as Ireland beat Macedonia on March 26, 2011 in the EURO 2012 qualifying match.His first start came in the friendly against Uruguay three days later.
James was given 90 minutes in central midfield in the friendly against Serbia in August 2012 as Ireland prepared for the start of their qualifying campaign for World Cup 2014.
Under Martin O'Neill the midfielder has become a permanent fixture in the side while also proving his Premier League quality with the Toffees.